The Alliance Française organised this fashion talk with renowned Belgian designer Dries Van Noten.
As he said himself, he doesn’t do this kind of event very often. At some moments I had the impression he didn’t feel too comfortable on that empty stage in front of a big crowd and under a Super Trouper spotlight. But nevertheless the evening had a certain feel of intimacy to it. It must be his personality. A soft spoken voice, humble and seemingly very honest. That’s how I would describe him.
His status of famous and glamorous fashion icon is certainly not sustained by himself.
Known as one of “the Antwerp 6”, he is not only the designer of his brand, but also the CEO of the whole company. He says to be a perfectionist in the sense that he wants to control everything. Not only for the sake of control, but also because he happens to like the business side too.
Van Noten still lives in Antwerp, not in fashion meccas like Paris or Milan. He says it’s good to be able to see things from a distance. And Antwerp is also where he has to attend to his garden!
To create a collection, he always starts with a “story”. It can be a painting, a smell, a movie or any other specific element that seems to grab his attention and inspire him. Then the story is translated to a person. And little by little a series of restrictions are taken in account, like the place and climate where his garments will be worn.
Van Noten thinks that beauty is boring. He likes ugly things. It sounds very strange from a person who creates such beautiful clothes.
Dries Van Noten has always been independent and his company completely self-financed. The company always makes its own fabrics and prints. He says fast fashion is a good thing for the client, but he could never give up his independence to draw for large scale chains, like for example Zara or H&M. But his garments should not be mistaken for haute couture neither. His work is perfectly wearable.
Van Noten does not do licences (for example sunglasses) because he simply prefers to design clothes, but also because those accessories can not be made in time to go with his collection.
Dries Van Noten does not advertise! He wants people to buy his clothes because they really like them, and not because it’s a well known brand.
But if Dries Van Noten does not advertise, how comes Dries Van Noten is so well known?